Revelers Throw Dead Rats at Each Other as Part of Bizarre Spanish Festival

Having a dead rat thrown straight in the face might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but for the people of El Puig, the yearly Battle of the Rats is an eagerly awaited event. During the bizarre celebration, people pick up frozen rat corpses and throw them at each other in the name of fun.

Every year, on the last Sunday of January, the town of El Puig, north of Valencia, hosts the Batalla de Ratas, or Battle of the Rats, one of the weirdest fiestas in Spain. Locals and tourists from all over the world gather in the main square to bash cucañas, a kind of local piñada. Sounds like a fun time, only there’s a catch – the goodies in half of these colorful cucañas include dead rats. Instead of running away in disgust at the sight of rodent corpses falling to the ground, festival goers rush to pick them up and throw them at the crowd. If you’ve been hit by a dead rat, it’s customary to grab it and throw it back at your attacker. It’s a good thing we’re not in the Middle Ages anymore, and the bubonic plague is nearly extinct, but still, I can’t help but think there’s something really unhygienic about throwing rats at people. In their defense, the people of El Puig only use frozen and previously-prepared corpses of humanely-killed rats.

Battle of the rats

Photo: YouTube video caption

How did the Spanish get the idea of throwing dead rats at each other, you ask? The local Sant Pere Festival has been celebrated in El Puig for centuries, only in the old days the cucañas were filled with fruits, nuts and other natural goodies, instead of packaged candy, and they often attracted the attention of rats. They would find a way into the cucaña to reach the treats, and on the day of the festival when the decorations were hung up and bashed, the rodents would make a surprise appearance in front of the crowd. The disappointed stick-wielders bashed the dazed rats and throw their corpses into the air to general hilarity and disgust. They would often fall on someone, to the delight of the masses. But things really got out of hand in a year when the rats were particularly successful at infiltrating the cucañas, and the square became filled with their battered corpses. The first rat battle ensued, with people merrily throwing them at each other, and to commemorate this memorable event, the Battle of the Rats has been staged every year.

Battle of the rats2

Photo: YouTube video caption

The Battle of the Rats is definitely not for the squeamish, but the people of El Puig enjoy throwing dead rats around so much that they’ve continued to do it even after the celebration was banned by authorities, in 2012.  Despite complaints from animal rights organizations, some locals say it’s their centuries-old tradition and they’re not going to give it up.


Source: SunnySunnySpain